Mitsumame (みつまめ)

Mitsumame is one of Japanese style sweets or desserts. Originally it was a summer foodand the name is included in the haiku season words of summer, but today it is eaten in all seasons.

The base is made of boiled red peas, cubes of agar gelatin, gyuhi (a kind of rice cake made from glutinous rice or glutinous rice flour), rice-flour dumplings, and fruit such as mandarin orange or peach (canned fruits in syrup are generally used) are placed in a bowl then dark molasses or molasses, or syrup is poured on.

There are a variety of styles depending upon ingredients included. Some of typical types are as follows.

Anmitsu: Mitsumame with azuki bean jam (whole bean and strained types are available) are included.

Mamekan: Contains only beans and cubes of agar gelatin.

Cream Mitsumame: Mitsumame with ice cream or whipped cream.

Fruit Mitsumame: Mitsumame with sliced fruit.

Coffee Mitsumame: Mitsumame with cubes of coffee jelly.

History

The original form of mitsumame was a confectionery for children made of red peas in a boat of shinkozaiku (a kind of rice cake) with molasses poured on, at the end of the Edo period.

It is said that mitsumame in today's form was sold for the first time in 1903 by 'Funawa' in Asakusa. It consisted of red peas, cubes of agar gelatin, apricot, and mochi (rice cake) contained in a silver bowl with molasses poured on top. Funawa served mitsumame at a Western teahouse named 'Mitsumame hall' following the name of 'Beer Hall' and 'Milk Hall' which were popular at that time, creating favorable attention as sweets for adults.

In 1930, an oshiruko (sweet red-bean soup with pieces of rice cake) shop 'Wakamatsu' located in the Ginza launched anmitsu which was a mitsumame with bean jam on it.